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Thread: President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba

  1. #21
    Leave it to CPUSA to turn the issue into support for the Democratic Party and by extension the bloody-handed harpy Hilary Clinton.

    .....

    Whether the potential benefits opened up by this breakthrough can be realized depends entirely on the outcome of the elections on November 8.

    Should any of the Republican candidates win the presidency, there is a high likelihood that the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba would be stopped or reversed.

    <snip>

    Therefore, it is also essential that the GOP be defeated in the Senate and House elections wherever possible. While we rightly pay attention to the very dramatic presidential election, we must also be ready to pitch in at the Congressional level, and create a Congress that will cooperate with the rapprochement that Presidents Obama and Castro have initiated.

    more.....

    http://www.solidnet.org/usa-communis...opportunity-en
    Shameful & nauseating. As though any of the ruling class or their toadies regard Cuba and Cubans as anything other than targets of their relentless exploitation. They will whore themselves for a promise.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  2. #22
    What the Western Left Misses About Cuba

    By Carlos Martinez and Prof. Tim Anderson
    Global Research, March 30, 2016

    The recent changes in Cuba are misunderstood by many western left commentators who, like other western pundits, are absorbed in the logic of western capital and pay little regard to Cuba’s history of resistance.

    So we see alarm bells ringing over ‘the end of the Revolution’, because a flood of US tourists and investors are arriving in the island. This will corrupt and destroy Cuban socialism, they claim. Some even posit a ‘split’ between Fidel and Raúl Castro. After all, Raúl was head of government when relations with the US began to be normalised, and now Fidel has written critically on the Obama visit – ‘denounced’ it, as was misreported by much of the US media.

    Clearly, the change in US policy is not a marker of some sort of new-found affection for Cuban socialism on the part of Washington; rather, it is a recognition that the strategy of sanctions and isolation has been utterly unsuccessful in its bid to starve the Cuban masses into counter-revolution. As Barack Obama put it at the start of the normalisation process in late 2014: “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach”. The ‘Plan B’, to bury Cuba in consumer envy and ‘American freedom’, has always been around.

    US regime change by ‘isolation’ has been an abysmal failure, just like the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961; the string of assassination attempts on the Cuban leadership; the sponsorship of terrorist groups; and the pumping of anti-communist propaganda about and into the island. Now the western media misreports the US abandoning a blockade policy as Cuba ‘opening up’ to the world.

    In fact, it was Cuba’s relentless diplomacy at the UN and its 2013 presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC: the 33 nation, 600 million person bloc which excludes the US and Canada), that catalysed Obama’s December 2014 shift. He found the tables had been turned; the US was now isolated in the Americas.

    US moves toward normalisation and dismantling the economic blockade represent, above all, a historic victory for Cuba. The failure of the policy of isolation is a tribute to the resilience, heroism and creativity of the Cuban people, combined with their determined and astute political leadership.

    Remember, this was a unilateral concession by Washington. Cuba did not change its internal policies. There is no change in Cuba’s 1995 Foreign Investment Law, created to facilitate joint ventures. Cuba’s more recent economic reforms were driven by internal need, and began several years before the recent US policy change. The US wants some quid pro quo, but Cuba does not see ‘normalisation’ that way.

    The position expressed by Fidel many decades ago and maintained by Raul today is simply this: the blockade must go. We have to live with our neighbours and some form of co-existence based on international law is both desirable and necessary. Many western leftists have not understood this.

    It’s a truism to say that imperialism never gives up its hostility to any socialist, progressive or independent country. There is an intractable conflict between an imperial power and any independent state. Cuban historians say this precedes the Revolution and that Washington has had its ‘annexationist’ eyes on Cuba for two centuries.

    Despite this, Cuba never shut the door to relations with the US. It was Washington which imposed threats, sanctions, embargoes, destabilisation and aggression. Cuba owes the US nothing for abandoning these aggressions. Political normalisation and an end to the blockade (not to mention freedom for the Cuban Five) have been key demands of Cuba and its supporters for decades. It is foolish not to recognize the importance of this breakthrough.

    Certainly, important questions remain: how will normalisation help the US to engage in counter-revolutionary activities? What will be the cultural impact? What controls must be maintained on foreign investors? These things are well known to a Cuban leadership which has been dealing with them for many years.

    Nevertheless, Cuba is in need of capital, technology and management techniques from the more developed countries. For a relatively poor country with limited natural resources, the blockade makes meaningful economic development exceedingly difficult; it creates serious shortages of medicine, foodstuffs, raw materials, energy, industrial materials; it is a massive barrier to accessing modern technology and foreign capital. It also makes it difficult to develop foreign markets for Cuban produce, which in turn limits local industry (such as pharmaceuticals) and foreign exchange. Ending the blockade has always been a key Cuban objective. The country has never wanted isolation.

    Havana is well placed to rise to the new challenges that ‘normalisation’ will bring. Its excellent relationships with Venezuela, Brazil, China and Russia help ensure that the US will not be able to dominate Cuba’s system of controlled, joint-venture foreign investment. Its revolutionary leadership is experienced, principled, honest, vigilant, and with deep roots among the masses. They are alert to US plans. As Fidel says in his recent commentary:

    “Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this noble and selfless country will surrender their rights and spiritual wealth that they have won with the development of education, science and culture.”

    Cuba will survive the dangers of normalisation, using the same strengths with which it has been able to survive everything else its northern neighbour has thrown at it over the last 57 years. Normalisation with the US, far from capitulation, is a great victory. Cuba is not giving up a single principle. It is a testament to the endurance and heroism of the Cuban people. ¡Que viva Cuba!

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/what-th...t-cuba/5517493
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  3. #23
    Monroe Doctrine Ghosts: Why Washington’s Soft Power Does Not Work in Cuba

    Cuban President Raul Castro, right, lifts up the arm of President Barack Obama at the conclusion of their joint news conference at the Palace of the Revolution, Monday, March 21, 2016, in Havana, Cuba


    © AP Photo/ Ramon Espinosa

    Although Washington currently “courts” Cuba, it is clear to Havana that the US’ intention is yet another Bay of Pigs invasion with a smile, Haitian-born journalist Dady Chery notes, commenting on US President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba.

    Havana has had enough experience with the Monroe Doctrine to know that Washington’s goal will always be to gain the upper hand over Cuban policies and turn the country into yet another subservient state, Dady Chery, a Haitian-born journalist, author and scientist writes in her article for News Junkie Post.

    “Even as the US courts Cuba, the US’ intention is clearly a Bay of Pigs invasion with a smile. The Cuban Revolution has enormous symbolic importance for people throughout the world who are fighting US domination, and the undoing of this revolution would be a major psychological blow,” Chery underscores.


    © REUTERS/ Carlos Barria

    “The US is already hinting that it wants popular elections that it can manipulate. In a March 22 speech, the US president stressed that ‘Cuba has a one-party system, [but] the United States is a multi-party democracy.’ This is quite laughable, given the subservience of both US parties to the same business concerns, and the charade that currently passes for an election in the US,” she notes.Barack Obama‘s historic visit to Cuba turned the spotlight on obstacles and hurdles in the way of a US-Cuban thaw. The visit was nothing of a “triumphant march.” Havana clearly signaled that it is not going to “surrender” to global hegemon.

    During the meeting with Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro emphasized that Washington should abandon its base at Guantanamo and lift the embargo on Cuba.


    © Photo: Youtube/locopedro59’s channel
    Che Guevara and Fidel Castro

    Castro added that there are “profound differences that will not disappear over our political model, democracy, human rights, social justice, international relations, peace and stability.”

    While Havana is ready to discuss opening Cuban markets to the US, it wants equal access to the US market, Chery notes.

    “Currently, Cuba holds more than 30 patents in the area of biotechnology, which is its main export. It manufactures more than 800 products for the health needs of Cubans, for whom it provides universal medical coverage. Cuba would like to sell its biotech products in the US and conduct the requisite clinical trials of Cuban products with US patients,” she underscores.

    The journalist calls attention to the fact that despite the US sanctions, Cuba has become largely self-sufficient over the past decades.

    “Although Cuba has complained for decades about the harm from the embargo, it is no longer a country without its own toilet paper or medications, but one that has painfully built its own economy,” Chery points out.


    Back dropped by a monument depicting Cuba's revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara, U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice-President of Cuba's State Council Salvador Valdes Mesa, right, and other members of the U.S. delegation stand during a ceremony at the Jose Marti Monument in Havana, Cuba, Monday March 21, 2016 © AP Photo/ Dennis Rivera

    Incredible as it may seem, Cuba has developed its own software products, including computer games, cell-phone platforms, and specialized software for the health sector.The country is also inclined to expand its tourism business.

    Havana is ready to open its doors to Washington but only if the latter would treat Cuba as an equal partner, not yet another vassal state.

    “The new wave of colonists wants to be in place now because they think that their work to undermine the Cuban Revolution will become easier after Cuba’s great hero Fidel Castro dies,” Chery notes, adding that US policymakers underestimate the importance of independence and sovereignty Cuba has gained through hardships and sacrifices.

    “As ever, the Cuban revolution thrives while under attack; one can only hope that it will never imagine it is not,” the journalist concludes.

    http://houstoncommunistparty.com/mon...-work-in-cuba/

    Must be interesting over in Houston. The contradictions, obvious and implied, are great, huge. Good coverage on Cuba without a trace of irony, while the party at large(and who is to say where the rank and file stand?) tails the bloody, treacherous Democrats.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  4. #24
    Why undermine a radical regime the "ole-fashioned" way by cutting them off from your orbit, when you could colonize them - with the help of some local Quislings to act as your stooges, naturally - and extract profits and resources.....hmm, that sounds eerily familiar.

    Eat your heart out, William McKinley.


  5. #25
    Here. They. Come.

    ********************************************************

    The woman trying to change Cuba's cultural landscape – and stay out of jail
    Tania Bruguera raised more than $100,000 to open the Institute of Art Activism in Havana, where Pussy Riot are the first artists-in-residence


    Tania Bruguera: ‘A one day performance doesn’t change anything – I want to do it all the time’ Photograph: Tim Knox for the Guardian


    Hannah Ellis-Petersen
    Sunday 10 April 2016 10.09 EDT Last modified on Sunday 10 April 2016 17.00 EDT

    In the past decade, few have been more of a thorn in the side of the Cuban government than Tania Bruguera. The Havana-born artist’s staging of provocative works condemning repression and championing freedom of expression in her troubled home country has repeatedly landed her in jail – including as recently as last year; in custody she has been the subject of both physical and psychological interrogation at the hands of the Cuban authorities.

    But nothing, it seems, can keep Bruguera down. She is about to embark on her most politically agitative project yet – one which she hopes will change the cultural landscape of Cuba for ever.

    Following an online fundraising campaign that raised more than $100,000 (£70,000), the artist is to open the Institute of Art Activism in Havana, the first “safe haven for freedom of expression” in Cuba. From September, the first artists-in-residence will be the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, who are no strangers to using art as a way to challenge government censorship.

    With Cuba opening up to the world through restored diplomatic relations with the US and welcoming foreign corporations into the country, Bruguera said it was essential that Cubans had a place they could freely deliberate over the direction their country was heading.

    “This is the moment of change in Cuba, when we have a moment as activists and artists in to challenge what is being proposed for our country,” she told the Guardian. “I do believe in the power of art to change society but I know this cannot be done alone, and it takes a long time. It is now or never, and that goes beyond my personal safety, my personal quality of life.”


    Pussy Riot’s video for the song Chaika. The Russian collective will be the first artists-in-residence at the institute. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/AP

    For security reasons Bruguera would not confirm any of the programme, but she said the projects would bring together art and politics to engage and provoke a Cuban audience who had become conditioned into political apathy – and self censorship – by 57 years of cultural and political repression. In practical terms, she also wants the institute to generate jobs and help eliminate systemic political violence.

    Pussy Riot said they were not going to the institute to have their own voices heard, but “to see if we can assist others in making theirs heard”.


    The Guardian Books Podcast Russian poetry and poison with Luke Harding and Pussy Riot - books podcast
    Guardian journalist Luke Harding and filmmaker Peter Pomerantsev discuss the assassination of Aleksander Litvinenko, and Masha Aloykhina of Pussy Riot shares the poetry that helped her survive prison
    Listen
    “Artists around the world are increasingly waking up to their potentialities in terms influencing social change, and power centres can often be intimidated by that – both Tania and we have experienced what that looks like,” the group said.

    The idea to open a permanent art institute in Cuba’s capital first came to Bruguera as she was staging a political artwork in her home in Havana in 2015, where she encouraged people from her neighbourhood to read pages from Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism – a book that spoke directly to Cuba’s own repressive regime.

    “My neighbours were calling me crazy because the book was so clearly so critical of the Cuban government, but that moment I saw that they understood. I knew then that this was exactly what I should be doing in a sustainable and long term way. A one day performance doesn’t change anything – I want to do it all the time,” said Bruguera.

    Bruguera’s staging of a collective reading of Hannah Arendt’s book The Origins of Totalitarianism. Photograph: Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt
    Yet Bruguera acknowledges it will not be an easy opening an institute in direct opposition to the government’s own agenda. The Cuban authorities retain strict control over the cultural landscape, banning all art and film that is “detrimental” to the image of Cuba. In the case of Bruguera, and Cuban graffiti artist El Sexto, breaking these cultural laws leads directly to prison. Obama’s first visit to the country in March prompted the arrest of about 60 pro-democracy protesters, many of whom were artists and musicians.

    Bruguera said a smear campaign against her had already begun: days after she launched the online fundraiser an anonymous letter was sent to Havana’s artistic community that cast doubt on her motivations for the project.

    The artist says she expects such intimidation tactics are “just the beginning.”

    However, Bruguera believes the biggest challenge is to convince Cubans from all walks of life – not just artists and intellectuals – to come through the doors of the institute without fear of retribution from government or police.

    She hopes she will be able to convince one person in particular: “I would like my interrogator to come to the institute, she will be welcome,” said Bruguera. “But as soon as she steps inside the institute, she is not entering as a repressor or an agent of the government or as an interrogator – she enters as a Cuban, and, just like us all, will have to respect the institute’s rules of respect, transparency and equality.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...era-pussy-riot

    Why don't she just move to Miami?
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  6. #26
    There is, and will be, a single Party

    With First Secretary Raúl Castro in attendance, another plenary session of the 7th Congress was held today, April 18, with Miguel Diaz-Canel presenting a resolution to approve the Central Report, approved unanimously

    Author: Arlin Alberty Loforte | informacion@granma.cu
    april 18, 2016 16:04:27


    Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, member of the Party Political Bureau today introduced a resolution to approve the Central Report, which was presented on Saturday, noting that the document is an expression of the historical continuity of the Revolution and Fidel’s teachings. The document critically and objectively reviews the work of the past five years, outlines the challenges to be faced, and expresses confidence in the future of a prosperous, sustainable socialism in Cuba, without sacrificing the nation’s sovereignty or the people’s wellbeing, he said.

    He reiterated that there is, and will be, a single Party, that of Martí, Baliño, Mella and Fidel, to guarantee the unity of all Cubans, noting that, as expressed in the resolution, the exchange of opinions among members and the people is also a fundamental task of the Party.

    Diaz-Canel said delegates agree that the struggle against ideological subversion, the formation of values, and attention to youth and children, as stated in the Central Report, are priorities.

    The resolution on the Central Report was approved unanimously.

    http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-04-18/...a-single-party
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  7. #27
    Playa Giron: forbidden to forget
    Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 7:02 | Make a comment


    Playa Giron: forbidden to forget


    The victory at Playa Giron was the first major propinada defeat imperialism in Latin America.

    On April they bring to mind the bitter moments when the attacks of the mercenary aviation occurred at Cuban airports of Ciudad Libertad, San Antonio de los Baños and Santiago de Cuba, a prelude to the mercenary invasion that occurred two days later .

    The main objective of the attack on the airfields, the April 15, 1961, was to destroy ground the modest Cuban air force to prevent it from being used when the invasion occurred.

    Inexperienced Cuban artillery grew to the threat posed to Cuba that aggression and the enemy managed to shoot down a device, in which two crew members died; another was hit by rebel artillery and was forced to land in Key West, and a third was forced to make an emergency landing in Grand Cayman Island.

    Cuban troops suffered seven dead and 53 wounded. One of the fallen, the young fighter Eduardo Garcia Delgado, said the decision to fight the revolutionary people to write with his own blood on the wall next to it fell, the name of Fidel.

    The next day, April 16, at the farewell of mourning for the victims and before an immense concentration of armed militants, the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro proclaimed the socialist character of the Revolution and declared a state of alert for an imminent invasion actually began at dawn on the 17th.

    Children young soldiers almost some- militants, workers, joined Fidel to reject and destroy the enemy, mostly former military and henchmen of Fulgencio Batista murderer, landowners, landlords and merchants, industrial magnates, among other species, which sought restore the oligarchy in the country and recover their property.

    The rapid response of the revolutionary command and unity of the people to defeat the mercenaries in less than 72 hours, with a balance for them 89 dead, 250 wounded and 197 thousand prisoners. Cuba suffered hundreds of injuries and 157 deaths.

    Today we remember those young people with admiration and images of gestures of love and boundless, as the case of Sofiel Riverón Lopez, who married on April 15 and left the bride to join the police battalion occur shortly after he left for Girón. The explosion of a mortar troncharía 20 years Sofiel and love for his young wife.

    Or Carini Rafael Angel Millan, whom everyone called the young Italian or Garibaldi and did not obey the order dismounting leading soldiers to defend the beloved land.

    "I'll fight as my colleagues are doing ..." he said excitedly before leaving. On the morning of 19, a 50 caliber bullet shattered his stomach. Carini was only 20 years.

    Would be countless examples of courage and patriotism Foolproof revolutionary fighters: young people with a whole life ahead, parents, children, siblings, friends who should not die in the fullness of a beautiful existence and gave their lives for the sake of a ideal.

    But the people will not forget, never forget, despite Obama's call to "forget the past and look to the future," as if you could erase the memory of the blood spilled to defend the country.

    The Bay of Pigs invasion was part of Operation Pluto CIA orchestrated in the United States, supported by their government and represented the first great defeat of Yankee imperialism in Latin America. It is the story that US President Barack Obama wants to erase.

    Can anyone imagine that so betray our dead?

    http://www.tiempo21.cu/2016/04/19/vi...ibido-olvidar/

    Google Translator

    I stayed in one of these cabanas. The lobby of the place had a huge mural of Fidel, Che and Sherman tank. Superimposed were various endemic Cuban critters, in keeping with the ecotourist thing.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  8. #28
    Fidel Castro's emotional speech at the closing of VII Congress - "The Cuban People will Win"



    VIDEO: Parts of Fidel Castro's speech at the VII Congress of PCC
    (in Spanish)

    Source: Cuban News Agency.

    We should tell our brothers in Latin America and the world that the Cuban people will win, asserted the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, in a special address at the closing ceremony of the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, in session for four days at Havana’s Convention Center.


    “I congratulate you all and firstly comrade Raul Castro for his wonderful effort,” pointed out Fidel, whose presence in the plenary session aroused prolonged applause from the nearly one thousand delegates and 280 guests present.
    He considered that delegates chosen by the people to whom it delegated its authority “it’s the greatest honor they have received in life; added to this is the privilege of being revolutionaries.”
    Why did I become a socialist? More clearly, why did I become a Communist?, he asked, and explained how he acquired his ideology, without a private tutor to help him in the study of Marxism-Leninism, and stressed that another 70 years should not elapse for an event like the Russian revolution to occur, for humanity to have another example of a great social revolution that represented a huge step in the fight against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.

    However, he warned that the greatest danger now hovering over Earth derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry, because it could undermine peace in the world and make it impossible for human life on the surface of the earth to exist.
    Future generations will know -he reflected- much more than us, but first they will have to solve a big problem: how to feed the billions of human beings whose realities collide against the limits of the natural resources they need.
    “Let’s hope many humans worry about these realities and don’t continue like in the times of Adam and Eve, eating forbidden apples,” he commented, and expressed his concern about who will feed people without technology, or rain, or reservoirs or underground deposits. We must constantly insist on these issues, he stressed.


    The historic leader of the Revolution recalled that soon he will turn 90 and that “everyone will eventually die, but the ideas of Cuban communists will prevail, as proof that on this planet, if you work with fervor and dignity, the material and cultural goods that humans need can be produced, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain them. ”
    “We will set out and will improve what should be improved, with utmost loyalty and united force, like Marti, Maceo and Gomez, in unstoppable march,” he concluded.

    Αναρτήθηκε από In Defense of Communism

    http://communismgr.blogspot.gr/2016/...speech-at.html
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  9. #29
    Fidel Castro: Absolved by History!

    Two days ago, compañero Fidel Castro made a rare appearance at the closing of the VII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. A great revolutionary, an incredible human being, Fidel, deserves the full respect of every communist, of everyone who believes in the ideals of Marxism-Leninism.

    Fidel Castro: Absolved by History!*
    By Nikos Mottas.

    "Socialism is and will continue being the hope, the only hope, the only way for the People, the oppressed ones, the exploited ones, the looted ones. Socialism is the only choice!" - Fidel Castro Ruz.



    It was 26th of July 1953 when a group of around 160 rebels, under the leadership of 26 years-old lawyer Fidel Castro, tried an armed attack on the Moncada barracks, at Santiago de Cuba. The aim was to give a first message of resistance against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The attack was not successful. Sixty-one rebels were killed while the rest -- including Castro -- were captured and imprisoned by the regime's authorities. However, the 26th of July 1953 remained in Cuban history as the day when the trigger of the following revolution was pulled. The revolutionary 'Movement of the 26thof July' (Movimiento 26 de Julio) took it's name from that day and a few years later led the army of Fidel, Che, Raul and Camilo to the thriumph against the corrupted, pro-imperialist regime of Batista.

    This years anniversary of the 26th of July 1953 attack gives the opportunity of writing some thoughts, as well as evidence, regarding the revolution that took place at the island of Jose Marti. Especially in today's historical circumstances and given the targeted distortions and defamations which are unleashed against Cuba and Cuban people.

    Historically, very few revolutions have been so deliberately distorted and misinterpreted as the 1959 Cuban Revolution has. The multiple enemies of Revolution and Castroism have invented hundreds of arguments in order to blemish the political, social and cultural values which, 53 year now, have been established in the island. That consists an effort which started just after the overthrow of the corrupted, and supported by Washington, dictatorship of Batista on January 1959. The confiscation of the property held by the monopolies and the Cuban bourgeoise, the agrarian reform and the socialization of the means of production which took place in the first half of the 1960s were an unexpected, big victory for the working class internationally.

    Having the support of the Soviet Union, the government of Fidel managed to establish, for at least three consecutive decades, a functional economic system, upgrading significantly on the same time the sectors of Health and Education and, furthermore, eliminating the illiteration rates existing in the pro-revolutionary period. Of course, the accomplishments of the Revolution were -- and continue to be -- a "thorn in the eye" of the capitalist superpower as well as of the various anti-communists, including conservative, neoliberal, social-democrats, opportunists etc.



    As it is known, during the period of Batista's dictatorship, Cuba was a huge plant of sugar production and casino-tourism, mainly for upper-class americans. The authority established by the "July 26th Movement" not only sweeped the privileges of the greedy cuban bourgeoise but also cut the "umbilical cord" of the country's financial oligarchy with US imperialism. That had as a result the change of power in a class level, with the emergence of the country's daily people (workers, farmers, youth) as protagonists in the social reality of Cuba.

    During the Revolution's first five years the consumption of meat and textile was doubled (the products became accessible to all the citizens), the housing prices were rapidly decreased, the abandoned luxurious mansions of those who left Cuba became home of about 80,000 students from the rural areas and the expensive cars of the self-exiled counter-revolutionaries were given to former servants in order to start working as taxi drivers.

    In order to comment on the achievements of the Cuban Revolution we must see the conditions existed before 1959. The reality is that before the takeover of Havana by the rebel forces, the island was no more than a small colony of Washington. Almost all products were imported from the United States as an exchange for the opening of the US market to the sugar production. The "indigenous" population had to obtain the basic goods (including the meat market) from the external (imported) sources indicated by the colonial regime.

    The notorious United Fruit Co, the US-based monopoly of fruit trade, was a powerful company which was bringing huge profits to it's owners by exploting the land of Cuban people. All -- without exceptions -- the suppliers of electricity and telephone were companies based in the United States, as well as the companies providing pharmaceutical material, clothing, automobiles and transportation (buses, ships, aircrafts). Cuban workers were forced to live a life by consuming imported american products which were provided in higher prices than in the US, being in fact slaves of a, tied by imperialism, oligarchy.

    Today, 53 years after the Revolution, the (quality) level of public sectors including Health, Education and Housing is much higher than in many capitalist countries in Latin America. The literacy rate is almost 98%, education is accessible to all citizens without exceptions while the Cuban national health system (free for all) is justifiably regarded one of the best in the world. Some indicative data speak by themselves:
    In 2007, the average life expectancy rate in Cuba was 78.26 years, having increasing trend. For the same year, the rate in the US was 77.99 years. (World Bank).
    In 2010, infant mortality rate in the island was 4.7 for ever 1000 births, less than any country in the whole continent, including the US.
    During the last years, 1,390,000 patients from 32 countries had their vision improved or fully restored in 59 ophalmology centers operating under the support of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.
    The centralized, state control of economy has let Cuba to constantly develop the national health system, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the hardening of the US economic blockade. From 1990 to 2003, the number of doctors in Cuba increased by 76%, of dentists by 46% and nurses by 16%. During the same period, the population coverage of the social institution of "family doctor" was increased by 52.2%, touching a rate of 99.2% in 2003.
    In November 2008, Cuba had more than 70,000 doctors. From them, approximately 17,600 were sent to 75 different countries in order to offer their services there. In 27 countries (including African countries such as Ghana, Botswana, Namimbia etc.) Cuba has supplied medical personnel which offers high quality services. In Timor Leste, for example, it is estimated that between 2003 and 2008, the Cuban medical mission saved 11,400 people contributing significantly to the fall of birth mortality rate.
    The high solidarity feeling among Cuban people is undoubted. The first Cuban medical team was sent in 1960 to the then devastated by an earthquake Chile. From 1960 to 1980 the Cuban government immediately sent medical aid to 16 countries which had been facing natural disasters or conflicts. On August 2005, after the disastrous hurricane Katrina in the United States, the Castro government volunteered to sent a team of doctors to the state of Louisianna. The proposal was turned down by the Bush administration. During the same year, on October 2005, Cuba sent the largest number of specialized medical personnel (2,500 men and women) to Pakistan, shortly after the earthquake. Moreover, the Cuban government offered 1,000 scholarships to Pakistani students from poor families who desired to study medicine.
    Furthermore...
    The 99.8% of Cubans over the age of 15 know how to read and write (UNESCO). That consists the highest rate of literacy in Latin America and one of the highest internationally.
    During 2010, one million young Cubans were graduated from the country's universities.
    The role of woman in society is upgraded. Fourty-three percent (43%) of the seats at the country's parliament are held by females, while 65% of the labor force in technical sectors are women.
    Despite the relatively small size of the country (11 million), Cuba is a significant power in sports. For example, in the Pan-American Games of 2011 held in Mexico, the country was terminated second with 58 golden medals.
    On the above we should add the fact that any citizen, indifferently of sex, race or ethnicity, can find a job, without facing the terrible situation of unemployment that bedevils many "developed" capitalist countries of the West.



    Undoubtely, nobody can say that the Revolution solved all the problems. There are existing problems which constantly changing and need new and more sophisticated solutions. It is also clear that by the standards of Cuba's northern neighbour (where approximately 50 million people have no social security), Fidel's country is indeed a relatively poor place. But here, we should ask the following: Under what conditions does Cuba and Cuban people try to live and develop for more than four decades?

    The answer is straightforward. From the establishment of the Revolution and until today, the Cuban people are facing a multi-dimensional enmity which aims in the collapse of this small, but resistant, socialist nation, just a few miles south of Florida. The inhuman embargo (economic blockade) that has been imposed by the US government consisted -- and consists -- the forefront of a multi-dimensional, unethical war that Imperialism has declared to Castro's government. It is estimated that, in economic terms, 8 hours of economic blockade equals with 140 school buildings' renovations. Three days of blockade equals with 100 tones of pharmaceutical material.

    The war against the Castro government and the Cuban people became more relentless after the Soviet Union's collapse in the beginning of 1990s. Someone could expect the gradual dissolution of socialism in the island. However, Cuba managed not only to stay firm, but also to progress under especially adverse circumstances. That consists the unambiguous and undoubted vindication of Fidel Castro. A leader who History herself (to which he pleaded in his famous speech) absolved many times in the past: When the revolutionary army of the July 26th Movement was thriumphantly entering Havana thus ousting Batista from the government. When the Cuban army fought successfully against the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. When the revolutionary spirit of this small and proud country became a source of inspiration for class and independence-oriented movement of other nations (in Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, Algeria).

    No matter what the fate of Socialism will be in Cuba after Fidel's biological death, one thing is sure: Fidel Castro has been undeniably and irreversibly absolved by History, as he himself had predicted. Nobody can know how the process would be if the attack on the Moncada Barracks, on the eve of the 26th July 1953, had never happened. The fact is that this action was enough in order to pull the triger of revolution. A Revolution which has factual evidence of success and which inspired, inspire and will continue to inspire all those who are "realists and ask for the impossible".


    Gracias, Fidel! Thank you for the Cuban Revolution.
    Thank you for making us believe in a better world.
    Thank you, most of all, for the Hope.

    * This is an updated, translated version of an article written on July 2012, published in Greek blog "Sierra Maestra".

    http://communismgr.blogspot.gr/2016/...y-history.html
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  10. #30
    The Cuban People Will Overcome
    by FIDEL CASTRO


    Email

    It constitutes a superhuman effort to lead any people in times of crisis. Without them, the changes would be impossible. In a meeting such as this, which brings together more than a thousand representatives chosen by the revolutionary people themselves, who delegated their authority to them, for all it represents the greatest honor they have received in their lives, to which is added the privilege of being a revolutionary which is the product of our own consciousness

    Why did I become a socialist, or more plainly, why did I become a communist? That word that expresses the most distorted and maligned concept in history by those who have the privilege of exploiting the poor, dispossessed ever since they were deprived of all the material wealth that work, talent and human energy provide. Since when does man live in this dilemma, throughout time without limit. I know you do not need this explanation but perhaps some listeners do.

    I speak simply so it is better understood that I am not ignorant, extremist, or blind, nor did I acquire my ideology of my own accord studying economics.

    I did not have a tutor when I was a law and political sciences student, subjects in which they have a great influence. Of course then I was around 20 years old and was fond of sports and mountain climbing. Without a tutor to help me in the study of Marxism-Leninism; I was no more than a theorist and, of course, had total confidence in the Soviet Union. Lenin’s work violated after 70 years of Revolution. What a history lesson! It can be affirmed that it should not take another 70 years before another event like the Russian Revolution occurs, in order that humanity have another example of a magnificent social revolution that marked a huge step in the struggle against colonialism and its inseparable companion, imperialism.

    Perhaps, however, the greatest danger hanging over the earth today derives from the destructive power of modern weaponry which could undermine the peace of the planet and make human life on earth’s surface impossible.

    The species would disappear like the dinosaurs disappeared, perhaps there will be time for new forms of intelligent life or maybe the sun’s heat will grow until it melts all the planets of the solar system and its satellites, as a large number of scientists recognize. If the theories of several of them are true, which we laypeople are not unaware of, the practical man must learn more and adapt to reality. If the species survives a much longer space of time the future generations will know much more than we do, but first they will have to solve a huge problem. How to feed the billions of human beings whose realities are inevitably at odds with the limited drinking water and natural resources they need?

    Some or perhaps many of you are wondering where are the politics in this speech. Believe me I am sad to say it, but the politics are here in these moderate words. If only numerous human beings would concern ourselves with these realities and not continue as in the times of Adam and Eve eating forbidden apples. Who will feed the thirsty people of Africa with no technology at their disposal, no rain, no reservoirs, no more underground aquifers than those covered by sands? We will see what the governments, which almost all signed the climate commitments, say.

    We must constantly hammer away at these issues and I do not want to elaborate beyond the essentials.

    I shall soon turn 90, such an idea would never have occurred to me and it was never the result of an effort, it was sheer chance. I will soon be like everyone else. We all reach our turn, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that on this planet, working with fervor and dignity, can produce the material and cultural wealth that humans need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain these. To our brothers in Latin America and the world we must convey that the Cuban people will overcome.

    This may be one of the last times that I speak in this room. I voted for all the candidates submitted for election by Congress and I appreciate the invitation and the honor of your listening to me. I congratulate you all, and firstly, compañero Raúl Castro for his magnificent effort.

    We will set forth on the march forward and we will perfect what we should perfect, with the utmost loyalty and united force, just as Martí, Maceo and Gómez, in an unstoppable march.

    Remarks by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, during the closing of the 7th Party Congress

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/...will-overcome/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  11. #31
    Cuba recognize advances in social and environmental spheres

    Cuba shows indicators of social and environmental development that make it stand out globally recognized Mirta Kaulard, resident coordinator of the United Nations on the island, in the national event for the World Environment Day

    Author: Darelia Borrero Diaz | internet@granma.cu
    June 5, 2016 23:06:23


    Sierra Maestra National Park, one of the natural beauties of the environmental heritage of the province of Granma. photo: Osbel Sabiel Silva Licea Photo: Osbel Sabiel Silva Licea

    BAYAMO, Granma.-Cuba shows indicators of social and environmental development that make it stand out globally recognized Mirta Kaulard, resident coordinator of the United Nations on the island, in the national event for the World Environment Day, which took place this Sunday, in the province of Granma.

    Kaulard, who is also resident representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cuba, said that the country produces and markets leading biotechnology products, and 15% of the national territory has been declared protected area.

    Likewise, the World Health Organization validated the elimination in the Isle of mother to child transmission of HIV and the country has proven an effective epidemiological surveillance to prevent the spread of dengue and zika, meant.

    The system of Nations and UNDP, reiterated the commitment to accompany Cuba in its efforts to achieve sustainable development, he said.
    America Santos, vice minister of Science, Technology and Environment, recalled that the Cuban government recognizes as a priority of its political adaptation to climate change.

    The draft Plan for Economic and Social Development until 2030, analyzed in the 7th. Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, it has a strategic axis based on natural resources and the environment, he said.

    In his speech the leader of Citma praised the province of Granma, worthy of the core activities for World Environment Day.

    Among the main results supporting the selection of the province as the most comprehensive in the last stage of work stress the rehabilitation treatment systems waste, the sustainable management of its ten protected areas, and the eradication of pollution sources as said Iris Betancourt, delegate Citma in Granma.

    At the ceremony, the National Environment Award to the hotel Brisas Guardalavaca, Holguin was granted; Center of Environmental Education, belonging to the Pedagogical University Enrique Jose Varona, Havana; and the Center for Studies of Applied Chemistry, the Marta Abreu Central University of Villa Clara, and the lawyer Roger Eduardo Rivero, principal investigator of the Department of Applied Meteorology, belonging to Camagüey Meteorological Center.

    Also received recognition delegations Citma in Sancti Spiritus and Granma, by the successes of 2015 on environmental matters.

    A special moment of the ceremony was the recognition granted government policy and direction of Granma Commander of the Revolution Guillermo Garcia Frias, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, for his brilliant actions in favor of environmental protection, and the territorial delegation Citma winning national acts in 2007 and 2016.

    As an initiative, the territory handed over to America Santos, deputy minister of CITMA, two photo albums, which reflect the natural beauty and environmental heritage of this region, and which will be circulated indiscriminately, the leader of the Revolution Cuba's Fidel Castro on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and Elba Rosa Pérez, Minister Citma.

    http://www.granma.cu/cuba/2016-06-05...-2016-23-06-23

    Google Translator

    Yankee capitalists stay home!
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  12. #32
    Hyatt Bass: Lessons from Cuba’s Incarceration Model
    March 21, 2016
    A conversation between Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York, Soffiyah Elijah, and writer Hyatt Bass.



    Image from Flickr user Jeldu

    Last summer I traveled to Cuba for the first time, strangely enough to learn about its prisons. I say strangely because while my preconceived notions of Cuban prisons were based mostly on Reinaldo Arenas’s powerful memoir Before Night Falls and the film adaptation directed by Julian Schnabel, which both paint a very grim picture of Arenas’s experience of incarceration in Cuba’s famous El Morro prison during the mid-1970s, the purpose of my trip to Havana was to learn about potential solutions to our own very broken criminal justice system in the US.

    I went with a group composed mostly of New Yorkers working in the field of criminal justice reform and led by Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of the Correctional Association (CA) of New York. The only private organization in the state with unrestricted access to prisons, the CA makes routine inspections throughout New York, reports its findings and recommendations to the public, and advocates for a more humane criminal justice system.

    In Havana, our group met with Cuban lawyers, supreme court and provincial judges, social workers, educators, and government officials in order to learn about the Cuban policies and practices regarding criminal trials, treatment of incarcerated people, juvenile justice, rehabilitation, and re-integration into society. Recently, Soffiyah and I discussed what we’d learned on our trip and what she has learned from studying the Cuban system over the past three decades.

    —Hyatt Bass for Guernica Daily

    Guernica: How did you originally learn about the Cuban criminal justice system and decide it was something you wanted to study?

    Soffiyah Elijah: Back in the late 1980s, I took a trip to Cuba with the National Lawyers Guild. I had never had an interest in going to Cuba. But on that first trip I had an opportunity to visit a men’s prison, and I was really struck by everything that was so very different from my experiences as a criminal defense lawyer in the United States visiting clients in prison.

    When we drove up to the facility, I kept looking for what I was used to here: high stone walls, lots of barbed wire, guard towers, guards with assault weapons. And I didn’t see any of that. We pulled up to a building that looked similar to a large elementary school, and when we entered the building, there was no metal detector, which was something else I wasn’t used to. And no one was checking my bag to look for weapons or contraband, and there was no sign-in book; none of the things that I was used to experiencing when I entered a prison in the United States.

    And then our guide announced that we would have, say, maybe two or three hours at the facility, and we could take a tour with him but we were not restricted to staying on the guided tour. So I wandered off with a couple of other people from the Guild, and we just went around the prison and sat in people’s rooms on their bunk beds and talked with them and literally went wherever we wanted, and that was totally different from any experience that I have had in the United States. Even as the executive director of the Correctional Association now, with legislative authority to monitor prison conditions and go inside the facilities in New York, we don’t take unguided tours of any facility. It’s very scripted where we go, and we are always accompanied by prison staff for the entire visit.

    You don’t have this demonization and stereotyping that we have here, where incarcerated people are so ostracized they’re like the untouchables.

    The following year, I went to a women’s prison in Cuba, and they put on a cabaret. I remember sitting in this huge auditorium with hundreds of people, and there were prison staff, people from the community, and people who were incarcerated all on the stage performing together in costumes. Nobody was in a uniform except the superintendent of the facility.

    So what got my brain racing was that those two experiences—the physical layout of the prisons, the fact nobody was in uniform, the intersection between the people from the community, the staff, and the people who are doing time—spoke to what I ultimately learned was a completely different view about people who have been convicted of crimes. You don’t have this demonization and stereotyping that we have here, where incarcerated people are so ostracized they’re like the untouchables.

    I’ll be the last one to say that the two Cuban prisons I went to speak for all the prisons in the country. I couldn’t possibly say that. But I can say very clearly what I did see and experience. And I’m not suggesting the US system could be shifted to something like what I saw in those two prisons. That just seems so farfetched. But it definitely created a completely different atmosphere than what I’m used to.

    Guernica: What are some of the practices that impress you most about the Cuban system?

    Soffiyah Elijah: The Cuban approach to youth justice is far more in keeping with an understanding of human brain development and the need to treat youth differently from adults. Youth are placed in a boarding school type setting there. Scientific research has proven that the section of the human brain that is responsible for impulse control is the frontal lobe. This is the last portion of the brain to fully develop and it does not do so until the mid to late twenties. Most criminal behavior is the result of impulsive actions. Therefore, a rational and enlightened approach to youth justice must take into account the reduced criminal responsibility that should be attributed to young people.

    Also, people are given the option to work while they’re incarcerated and to be paid the same amount that they would be paid if they had that job in the free world. And when they are being released, there is an effort to place them in a job analogous to what they were doing when they were inside. There is a work release program, too, that can significantly shorten your sentence.

    Another thing that struck me was furloughs. They didn’t have minimum, medium, and maximum-security prisons. The distinction of security level was manifested in how often you got a furlough to go home for the weekend. So, a minimum-security person might get three furloughs a month. A maximum-security person only gets one furlough a month. And that was something very, very different to what I was used to here. We have different facilities for different security levels, and furloughs are not common throughout the US prison system.

    We don’t value humans in the same way in the United States. We’re willing to put people on a conveyor belt in criminal court, off to prison, off to reentry, back to recidivism, back inside, without thinking about the long-term damage that we’re doing.

    Guernica: I remember we were told that the incarcerated person could dress in civilian clothes and go home to visit his or her family with a guard also dressed in civilian clothing. Additionally, while someone is imprisoned, there is a social worker who regularly visits the family to make sure the spouse, parents, and/or children are doing okay in that person’s absence.

    Soffiyah Elijah: A total support system. And in Cuba, no matter where your crime was committed, if you’re going to be incarcerated, you will be incarcerated in the province where you live to facilitate close family communication, which is something that’s totally foreign here.

    Guernica: What do you think would be the big obstacles to doing some of these things in the US?

    Soffiyah Elijah: In order to really understand why the system is just so fundamentally different, we have to take a giant step backwards to look at what is the funneling source. Prisons in the US are tied to a profit margin. And in Cuba, prisons are tied to, and the society is focused on, valuing the human being. So everything that they do, from the education to the fact that the healthcare system is free, to the entire approach of incarcerating someone, is tied to how do we make the most out of each individual, because the view is that the human is the most precious resource that their country has.

    We don’t value humans in the same way in the United States. We’re willing to put people on a conveyor belt in criminal court, off to prison, off to reentry, back to recidivism, back inside, without thinking about the long-term damage that we’re doing, not only to that person but also to their family, to their community, an ultimately, to our society. Only now is the dialogue starting to shift a little bit to think about those things, and sadly, in the US, what’s driving people to start thinking differently about it is they’re focused on how much it costs financially. Now some might say, well, I mean, the Cubans are focused on that too. But they never went down that path of bankrupting the economy on locking people up. Their whole system is geared towards if someone’s going to be incarcerated, what’s the shortest amount of time necessary, and what are all the things that we need to package around that person to help that experience give them the stepping stones so that they never come back.

    Guernica: When you talk about valuing the human being in Cuba, I felt that so strongly when I was there. But it’s hard to speak about when you return, because people just look at you like you’ve lost your mind. They say, “You really drank the Kool-Aid.”

    Soffiyah Elijah: Yeah. Far too often, once I say that I’ve seen this work in Cuba, people turn off. And I can’t say that, so it’s almost like a taboo. But the whole society cannot be staged. Right? It’s a different culture, a different outlook on life. One of the things that I find really interesting in Cuba, no matter what part of the country you’re in, whether people are living very, very poorly, or a better level of existence, Sunday evening, on a hot evening, after dinner, you see loads and loads and loads of families walking, just taking a stroll—the children, the parents—peacefully, but that is an activity, and it’s just very loving and nurturing. And I don’t mean like the land of milk and honey. The people are struggling, but they’re enjoying each other’s company. And having a peaceful coexistence.

    Guernica: I don’t want to imply that Cuba is a total paradise, and I think we all carried a healthy balance of skepticism and openness into all of our meetings in Cuba just as we would do in similar meetings here.

    Soffiyah Elijah: The thing that is most important about Cuba is it gives an opportunity for people to just go and see for themselves. It’s not all right. It’s not all wrong. It’s not all left. It’s not all right. It’s a different society, and my hope is that the embargo will end and then the travel restrictions will be totally eliminated, so that Americans are free to go and see and learn and experience friendships like they could do anyplace else.

    Guernica: Why do you think your request for our group to visit a prison in Cuba was denied?

    Soffiyah Elijah: We were not an official delegation and we were not requesting an inspection. I never received a denial, although of course, we could claim that if we did not get a yes we were denied. That fails to recognize the sensitive nature of the request in the first place in light of the long historical allegations of human rights violations by the US against Cuba that escalated in the 1990s, a few years AFTER I’d visited Cuban prisons. My recent request to visit a Cuban prison came in the midst of historical political negotiations to normalize relations between Cuba and the US. This important contextual framework is imperative in understanding the full significance of our trip at this historical moment.

    Guernica: Something that really made an impression on me while we were there was the contrast between what we were hearing in our meetings about the treatment of people in prison there and what I was hearing from you whenever we got back on the bus in terms of the horrible abuses you’ve witnessed in New York prisons. Could you talk about that?

    Soffiyah Elijah: So many horrific things happen here. One stark contrast is the routine use of solitary confinement in our prisons. The use of solitary confinement in the US is so abusive that it shocks the conscience. In February 2016 Albert Woodfox was finally released from prison after serving forty-three years in solitary confinement! Contrast this with the fact that they don’t use solitary confinement at all in Cuba. Another contrast is that in Cuba, if you’re sentenced to the death penalty, you have an automatic right of appeal all the way up to the National Assembly to decide on whether or not that sentence is going to be imposed, and the last time it was imposed was in 2003. Also, in Cuba, if someone is charged with murder, the very first thing that happens is a complete psychosocial evaluation, because there is an assumption that if someone’s behavior is so aberrant that they engaged in murder, there must have been something psychologically wrong with them. As opposed to the assumptions that are made here. Nothing, nothing like that happens here.

    Guernica: My understanding is that in New York you have an established network of formerly incarcerated people and currently incarcerated people who let you in on what’s really going on inside the prisons so that if you visit and they try to present things as better than they are, you know it.

    Soffiyah Elijah: Correct. Some of those people work here at the Correctional Association, and then we have a network of coalition members and advisory board people.

    Guernica: What about Cuba? How do you know what’s really going on inside those prisons?

    Soffiyah Elijah: I ask my friends there who know people who have been incarcerated there, “So tell me, what do people say was their experience?”
    “What’s the real deal?” “This is what I heard at this lecture.” “This is what I heard here.” You know? “What do you see the police doing?” “What are people describing happened to them when they were incarcerated?” And they’re not describing these human rights abuses that are being reported in the United States. Now, obviously I haven’t been to every prison in Cuba. I haven’t talked to every person who’s ever been incarcerated. But I know that Cuba’s crackdown on corruption and violation of their public trust is very serious. So, I think that contributes to why they don’t have a police brutality problem and they don’t have an abuse problem inside the prisons.

    Guernica: The Correctional Association of New York’s role in inspecting New York prisons and publicly condemning the abuses you yourself have seen and heard about firsthand are crucial to making the American system more humane. How do you reconcile what you like about the Cuban criminal justice system with the fact that an NGO like the Correctional Association could not exist there?

    Soffiyah Elijah: First, your question presumes that an NGO like the CA could not exist. I do not feel equipped to make that assertion. It also, more subtly, presumes that only a CA-like structure can accomplish its goals and pursue its mission in Cuba. In light of the fact that the political infrastructure is vastly different in Cuba and the United States, such a presumption may be flawed.

    The Correctional Association was founded over 170 years ago by very wealthy people who wielded tremendous influence in New York politics. It was headed by a socially conscious judge, John Edmonds, who was troubled by the conditions the people he sentenced to prison were forced to endure. He was disturbed so much by these conditions that he rallied his friends to join him in doing something about it. Using their political influence, they succeeded in getting the New York legislature to bestow upon them the authority to inspect all prisons and jails and report their findings. They were not given funding by the lawmakers. However, due to their own wealth, they were able to operate without it.

    There is only one other private independent organization similar to the CA in the United States, The Pennsylvania Prison Society. Unlike the CA, it uses its access to advocate on behalf of individuals and does not pursue systemic change. It was founded in 1787. Many activists in the prison reform movement across the country have noted that it would be impossible today to replicate the CA in other states due to political resistance by lawmakers and policy wonks.

    So, would it be financially feasible to create and sustain a CA-like organization in Cuba? The CA is almost totally funded by private donors and foundations. Philanthropic organizations do not exist in Cuba. Cuba is a very poor country and its resources are focused on feeding, housing, educating and caring for the health of the people. Similarly, very wealthy individuals do not exist in Cuba. Yes, some people are enjoying a somewhat higher quality of life, but the vast amounts of wealth that we see in the US are not the norm in Cuba.

    In one of our meetings in Havana, we asked if they shackle women during childbirth, and they looked at us like we were accusing them of some kind of barbarism. We explained with embarrassment that we were only asking if they engaged in the same practice that we have here.

    The political feasibility question is undoubtedly what most people will presume is answered with a resounding no. However, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are designed to build in opportunities for popular input by the people on a block-by-block basis and thereby facilitate a participatory governance structure. Despite their many successes, the Committees are mechanisms of the State and therefore are at least potentially less objective than an NGO like the CA could be. It may be difficult to determine whether or not the committees are sufficient to address the sorts of concerns that the CA has struggled to expose in the US.

    Guernica: One of the things you yourself have been really instrumental in putting an end to in New York state is the practice of shackling women during childbirth and pregnancy. But I understand from the Correctional Association’s recent report on reproductive health that the majority of pregnant women are still being shackled in violation of the law.

    Soffiyah Elijah: It’s true. It’s true.

    Guernica: In one of our meetings in Havana, we asked if they shackle women during childbirth, and they looked at us like we were accusing them of some kind of barbarism. We explained with embarrassment that we were only asking if they engaged in the same practice that we have here.

    Soffiyah Elijah: That’s a good point. Yeah. They couldn’t fathom how any society could think of shackling a woman when she was giving birth. Just being able to be in a society and hear how bizarre it is to them that we would shackle a woman while she’s giving birth, or while she’s pregnant at all—so, that kind of supports and fuels your righteous indignation to push back and advocate even harder to say, “No, I’m not crazy. I know that this does not have to be the norm, and what’s being done here is barbaric.”

    https://www.guernicamag.com/daily/hy...eration-model/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  13. #33
    Venceremos Brigade visit Guantanamo
    US youth exchange with young Guantanamo residents of different sectors and labor for tasks of urban agriculture


    Author: Victor Hugo Fonseca Puron | internet@granma.cu
    July 18, 2016 23:07:07
    GUANTÁNAMO.-Young of the United States that make up the contingent 47 of the Venceremos Brigade volunteer work will labor in this province between 25 July and 6 August.

    Ana Teresa Naples Disotuar, delegate of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) in the territory, reported to be the first time that such solidarity group will conduct its work outside the capital.

    Visitors, he argued, - exchange with young Guantanamo residents of different sectors and labor for tasks of urban agriculture, sanitation city, construction and agricultural cooperative on September 21, located in the municipality of Manuel Tames.

    The twenty brigade also celebrate the Day of National Rebellion with the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, in the neighborhood, and August 4 will participate in the traditional pilgrimage to the Day of the Political Song, organized by the Hermanos Saiz Association .

    The program includes a visit to the Brigada de la Frontera, Antonio Maceo Order; the city of Baracoa, the Provincial Museum, the Ballet Folklorico Babul, the Community Children's Project The Beehive Guantanamo and the House of Changüí Chito Latamblet, among other sites of historical or cultural interest.

    The attention that the elderly provided in this eastern province will also be known by young Americans, who also exchange with teachers of special school on June 14, journalists and bloggers and also reach attractions in the province of Santiago de Cuba.

    According to the information provided, the contingent will arrive in Cuba on the 24th, for Holguin, where he will serve a program that includes a visit to the historic site of Biran, where the birthplace of Fidel and Raul Castro Ruz.

    Venceremos Brigade for 46 years traveling to Cuba in defiance of the restrictions imposed on the country by the US blockade.

    http://www.granma.cu/cuba/2016-07-18...-2016-23-07-07

    Google Translator

    I knew some folks who did this back around '71 but I was too much of a dumbass at the time. Did admire them for it, though.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  14. #34
    Solidarity with Cuba is eternal
    Gail Walker extended congratulations to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro for his 90th birthday and said that in several US communities will be celebrations the coming August 13

    Author: Gabriela Avila Gomez | internet@granma.cu
    July 19, 2016 23:27:15

    The Caravan of Pastors for Peace



    The Caravan of Pastors for Peace struggle for the elimination of the blockade imposed on Cuba Photo: Yaimí Ravelo
    Samples of support for Cuba from all over the world are many, example is the recent arrival to the island of the 27th Caravan of Pastors for Peace, a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO for its acronym in English).

    In a press conference held on Tuesday, Gail Walker, executive secretary of the IFCO said that the institution will continue its solidarity with the Caribbean nation.

    The daughter of the Rev. Lucius Walker (creator of Pastors for Peace) said that the caravan visited about 45 cities in the United States to discuss the impact of economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the North American country to Cuba.

    We focus on clarifying the changes that have occurred between the two nations since restored their relationships, and those who still do not happen, he said the executive secretary of the IFCO.
    Walker extended congratulations to the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro for his 90th birthday and said that in several US communities will be celebrations the coming August 13.

    Meanwhile, the Rev. Thomas Smith, a member of the board of IFCO, said that Cuba is a shining light to the world and we must continue the work of the caravan to make that light go on.

    He also said that the blockade affects the lives of Cubans and harms innocent people.

    The Rev. Raul Suarez, director of the Martin Luther King Memorial Center (CMLK) recalled that one of the principles of Lucius Walker remains in force is to practice love of neighbor Cuban should not ask permission from the US government.

    Just before the press conference, the caravan placed a wreath at the plaque of Lucius Walker, located in the Anti-Imperialist Tribunal.

    This 27 Caravan of Pastors for Peace, which will be on the Island until 29 July, is composed of 41 people: 29 Americans, nine Mexican, two Germans and a Swede.

    http://www.granma.cu/cuba/2016-07-19...-2016-23-07-15

    Google Translator
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  15. #35
    Fidel Castro: Absolved by History!



    Two days ago, compañero Fidel Castro made a rare appearance at the closing of the VII Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. A great revolutionary, an incredible human being, Fidel, deserves the full respect of every communist, of everyone who believes in the ideals of Marxism-Leninism.

    Fidel Castro: Absolved by History!*
    By Nikos Mottas.

    "Socialism is and will continue being the hope, the only hope, the only way for the People, the oppressed ones, the exploited ones, the looted ones. Socialism is the only choice!" - Fidel Castro Ruz.

    It was 26th of July 1953 when a group of around 160 rebels, under the leadership of 26 years-old lawyer Fidel Castro, tried an armed attack on the Moncada barracks, at Santiago de Cuba. The aim was to give a first message of resistance against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The attack was not successful. Sixty-one rebels were killed while the rest -- including Castro -- were captured and imprisoned by the regime's authorities. However, the 26th of July 1953 remained in Cuban history as the day when the trigger of the following revolution was pulled. The revolutionary 'Movement of the 26thof July' (Movimiento 26 de Julio) took it's name from that day and a few years later led the army of Fidel, Che, Raul and Camilo to the thriumph against the corrupted, pro-imperialist regime of Batista.

    This years anniversary of the 26th of July 1953 attack gives the opportunity of writing some thoughts, as well as evidence, regarding the revolution that took place at the island of Jose Marti. Especially in today's historical circumstances and given the targeted distortions and defamations which are unleashed against Cuba and Cuban people.

    Historically, very few revolutions have been so deliberately distorted and misinterpreted as the 1959 Cuban Revolution has. The multiple enemies of Revolution and Castroism have invented hundreds of arguments in order to blemish the political, social and cultural values which, 53 year now, have been established in the island. That consists an effort which started just after the overthrow of the corrupted, and supported by Washington, dictatorship of Batista on January 1959. The confiscation of the property held by the monopolies and the Cuban bourgeoise, the agrarian reform and the socialization of the means of production which took place in the first half of the 1960s were an unexpected, big victory for the working class internationally.

    Having the support of the Soviet Union, the government of Fidel managed to establish, for at least three consecutive decades, a functional economic system, upgrading significantly on the same time the sectors of Health and Education and, furthermore, eliminating the illiteration rates existing in the pro-revolutionary period. Of course, the accomplishments of the Revolution were -- and continue to be -- a "thorn in the eye" of the capitalist superpower as well as of the various anti-communists, including conservative, neoliberal, social-democrats, opportunists etc.



    As it is known, during the period of Batista's dictatorship, Cuba was a huge plant of sugar production and casino-tourism, mainly for upper-class americans. The authority established by the "July 26th Movement" not only sweeped the privileges of the greedy cuban bourgeoise but also cut the "umbilical cord" of the country's financial oligarchy with US imperialism. That had as a result the change of power in a class level, with the emergence of the country's daily people (workers, farmers, youth) as protagonists in the social reality of Cuba.

    During the Revolution's first five years the consumption of meat and textile was doubled (the products became accessible to all the citizens), the housing prices were rapidly decreased, the abandoned luxurious mansions of those who left Cuba became home of about 80,000 students from the rural areas and the expensive cars of the self-exiled counter-revolutionaries were given to former servants in order to start working as taxi drivers.

    In order to comment on the achievements of the Cuban Revolution we must see the conditions existed before 1959. The reality is that before the takeover of Havana by the rebel forces, the island was no more than a small colony of Washington. Almost all products were imported from the United States as an exchange for the opening of the US market to the sugar production. The "indigenous" population had to obtain the basic goods (including the meat market) from the external (imported) sources indicated by the colonial regime.

    The notorious United Fruit Co, the US-based monopoly of fruit trade, was a powerful company which was bringing huge profits to it's owners by exploting the land of Cuban people. All -- without exceptions -- the suppliers of electricity and telephone were companies based in the United States, as well as the companies providing pharmaceutical material, clothing, automobiles and transportation (buses, ships, aircrafts). Cuban workers were forced to live a life by consuming imported american products which were provided in higher prices than in the US, being in fact slaves of a, tied by imperialism, oligarchy.

    Today, 53 years after the Revolution, the (quality) level of public sectors including Health, Education and Housing is much higher than in many capitalist countries in Latin America. The literacy rate is almost 98%, education is accessible to all citizens without exceptions while the Cuban national health system (free for all) is justifiably regarded one of the best in the world. Some indicative data speak by themselves:
    In 2007, the average life expectancy rate in Cuba was 78.26 years, having increasing trend. For the same year, the rate in the US was 77.99 years. (World Bank).
    In 2010, infant mortality rate in the island was 4.7 for ever 1000 births, less than any country in the whole continent, including the US.
    During the last years, 1,390,000 patients from 32 countries had their vision improved or fully restored in 59 ophalmology centers operating under the support of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.
    The centralized, state control of economy has let Cuba to constantly develop the national health system, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the hardening of the US economic blockade. From 1990 to 2003, the number of doctors in Cuba increased by 76%, of dentists by 46% and nurses by 16%. During the same period, the population coverage of the social institution of "family doctor" was increased by 52.2%, touching a rate of 99.2% in 2003.
    In November 2008, Cuba had more than 70,000 doctors. From them, approximately 17,600 were sent to 75 different countries in order to offer their services there. In 27 countries (including African countries such as Ghana, Botswana, Namimbia etc.) Cuba has supplied medical personnel which offers high quality services. In Timor Leste, for example, it is estimated that between 2003 and 2008, the Cuban medical mission saved 11,400 people contributing significantly to the fall of birth mortality rate.
    The high solidarity feeling among Cuban people is undoubted. The first Cuban medical team was sent in 1960 to the then devastated by an earthquake Chile. From 1960 to 1980 the Cuban government immediately sent medical aid to 16 countries which had been facing natural disasters or conflicts. On August 2005, after the disastrous hurricane Katrina in the United States, the Castro government volunteered to sent a team of doctors to the state of Louisianna. The proposal was turned down by the Bush administration. During the same year, on October 2005, Cuba sent the largest number of specialized medical personnel (2,500 men and women) to Pakistan, shortly after the earthquake. Moreover, the Cuban government offered 1,000 scholarships to Pakistani students from poor families who desired to study medicine.
    Furthermore...
    The 99.8% of Cubans over the age of 15 know how to read and write (UNESCO). That consists the highest rate of literacy in Latin America and one of the highest internationally.
    During 2010, one million young Cubans were graduated from the country's universities.
    The role of woman in society is upgraded. Fourty-three percent (43%) of the seats at the country's parliament are held by females, while 65% of the labor force in technical sectors are women.
    Despite the relatively small size of the country (11 million), Cuba is a significant power in sports. For example, in the Pan-American Games of 2011 held in Mexico, the country was terminated second with 58 golden medals.
    On the above we should add the fact that any citizen, indifferently of sex, race or ethnicity, can find a job, without facing the terrible situation of unemployment that bedevils many "developed" capitalist countries of the West.

    Undoubtely, nobody can say that the Revolution solved all the problems. There are existing problems which constantly changing and need new and more sophisticated solutions. It is also clear that by the standards of Cuba's northern neighbour (where approximately 50 million people have no social security), Fidel's country is indeed a relatively poor place. But here, we should ask the following: Under what conditions does Cuba and Cuban people try to live and develop for more than four decades?

    The answer is straightforward. From the establishment of the Revolution and until today, the Cuban people are facing a multi-dimensional enmity which aims in the collapse of this small, but resistant, socialist nation, just a few miles south of Florida. The inhuman embargo (economic blockade) that has been imposed by the US government consisted -- and consists -- the forefront of a multi-dimensional, unethical war that Imperialism has declared to Castro's government. It is estimated that, in economic terms, 8 hours of economic blockade equals with 140 school buildings' renovations. Three days of blockade equals with 100 tones of pharmaceutical material.

    The war against the Castro government and the Cuban people became more relentless after the Soviet Union's collapse in the beginning of 1990s. Someone could expect the gradual dissolution of socialism in the island. However, Cuba managed not only to stay firm, but also to progress under especially adverse circumstances. That consists the unambiguous and undoubted vindication of Fidel Castro. A leader who History herself (to which he pleaded in his famous speech) absolved many times in the past: When the revolutionary army of the July 26th Movement was thriumphantly entering Havana thus ousting Batista from the government. When the Cuban army fought successfully against the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. When the revolutionary spirit of this small and proud country became a source of inspiration for class and independence-oriented movement of other nations (in Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Angola, Algeria).

    No matter what the fate of Socialism will be in Cuba after Fidel's biological death, one thing is sure: Fidel Castro has been undeniably and irreversibly absolved by History, as he himself had predicted. Nobody can know how the process would be if the attack on the Moncada Barracks, on the eve of the 26th July 1953, had never happened. The fact is that this action was enough in order to pull the triger of revolution. A Revolution which has factual evidence of success and which inspired, inspire and will continue to inspire all those who are "realists and ask for the impossible".


    Gracias, Fidel! Thank you for the Cuban Revolution.
    Thank you for making us believe in a better world.
    Thank you, most of all, for the Hope.

    * This is an updated, translated version of an article written on July 2012, published in Greek blog "Sierra Maestra".

    http://communismgr.blogspot.gr/2016/...y-history.html
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  16. #36
    Castro is one of my few heroes. He is a great man and a common man. He did great things and inspired great things. We need an army of young Castros, but just one has proven to be enough.
    "America was never great"

    "Anyone who analyzes the state of affairs in the world will find that it is the imperialists and capitalists, who subject the world to the worst poverty, the worst backwardness, and they are simply the scourge of mankind." - Fidel

    "Privilege begets psychopathy" - blindpig

  17. #37


    Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz
    Dear Comandante,

    On the occasion of your 90th birthday the members of the Network of
    Intellectuals, Artists, and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity want
    to extend our most sincere congratulations and above all our deepest
    gratitude for everything you have done for the peoples of Our America
    and the rest of the world.

    Your presence has been a permanent source of inspiration, not only when
    the ascending tide of the popular struggles were making firm steps
    towards socialism, but also in the recurrent moments when our advances
    have been stopped due to the ferocity of the reaction of imperialism and
    their local allies.

    In the phases of uprising your example forced us to never be satisfied
    and like good revolutionaries we pursued with renewed vigor our march
    especially when we needed to confront adversities or the
    counter-offensive of the enemy. The memory of your attitude after the
    Moncada or the attack of imperialism in Playa Giron strengthened our
    spirits and convinced us that the unyielding will to fight for our
    ideals was the sure path to victory. You showed us that path on
    countless occasions, and we can assure you that all that teaching
    reiterated to us in your meeting with intellectuals on February 10,
    2012, when you said that “Even if we heard that in a few weeks the world
    will come to an end, our duty would be to fight, to continue fighting
    until the end”, will never be forgotten. This thinking of yours has
    ingrained a very deep and indelible brand in millions of people in Latin
    America and the Caribbean who, like many others in other parts of the
    world, know that this will be our destiny; fighting to the end knowing
    that the dominant class and imperialism will never just give up.

    These convictions that our ideas and the values we hold are infinitely
    superior to those of the enemy and are an essential ingredient of our
    revolutionary militancy. From you we learned that defending our values
    demands from us the most absolute intransigency. We learned this again
    when with virtuous obstinacy you opposed the herding of the flags of
    socialism while the Soviet Union and the Socialist camp disappeared.
    Thanks to your unwavering conviction the Cuban revolution could continue
    on its march, and by your heroic example, you opened a path that a few
    years later would start growing in numerous countries of our America
    after the electoral victory of the presidency of Hugo Chávez in
    Venezuela in December of 1998. If you had been convinced by those who
    advised you to leave forever the Socialist project and throw Cuba into
    the arms of capitalism that bright period that opened from the end of
    the last century until now, with the defeat of the FTAA, the creation of
    ALBA, of UNASUR, of CELAC, of Petrocaribe, of the Bank of the South, of
    Telesur and of this Network in Defense of Humanity would never have
    taken place. The powerful light that radiated in the lighthouse of the
    Cuban Revolution was decisive in pushing our people to leave behind that
    long neoliberal night of the 1990s and return to the path of our Second
    and Definitive Independence.

    That is why our debt, the debt of our people to you, Comandante, is
    immeasurable and hence our deep gratitude for your revolutionary
    integrity, for being faithful to that wonderful definition of
    “revolution”. You expressed it so well in your speech on May 1, 2000,
    when you pointed out that revolution “is to defend the values in which
    we believe at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness,
    altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity,
    intelligence and realism.” Throughout your prolific life you have been
    faithful to these ideas, that will live eternally in the soul of all the
    revolutionaries around the world, in all of those who know that another
    world is possible and necessary, and that if we continue to struggle
    with constancy and consistency as you have shown for so many years, the
    victory is inevitable.

    Happy 90 years, Fidel! Thanks for your example. You can be sure that we
    will be faithful to you teachings until the final victory.

    On behalf of the Executive Secretariat of the Network in Defense of
    Humanity, (REDH)

    Carmen Bohórquez (REDH General coordinador)
    Alicia Jrapko (REDH United States)
    Ángel Guerra (REDH Cuba/México)
    Ariana López (REDH Cuba)
    Atilio Boron (REDH Argentina)
    David Comissiong (REDH Caribbean)
    Fredy Ñáñez (REDH Venezuela)
    Hugo Moldiz (REDH Bolivia)
    Juan Manuel Karg (REDH Argentina)
    Katu Arkonada (REDH Basque Country/Bolivia)
    Luciano Vasapollo (REDH Italy)
    Marilia Guimaraes (REDH Brazil)
    Nayar López Castellanos (REDH México)
    Omar González (REDH Cuba)
    Roger Landa (REDH Venezuela)

    Email for other signature: redh.celebra90aniversariofidel@gmail.com

    http://houstoncommunistparty.com/gra...example-fidel/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  18. #38
    From twitter:

    ‏@communick
    When you build one of the greatest socialist states of all time and Trotskyists still say it isn't "real socialism"


    Happy birthday Commandante!

    One of these days those idealists will be sorry...
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  19. #39
    and Trotskyists still say it isn't "real socialism"
    Fuck all Trots, period.
    "America was never great"

    "Anyone who analyzes the state of affairs in the world will find that it is the imperialists and capitalists, who subject the world to the worst poverty, the worst backwardness, and they are simply the scourge of mankind." - Fidel

    "Privilege begets psychopathy" - blindpig

  20. #40
    Cuba: An Island of authenticity in a sea of illusion

    By Daniel Margrain





    In my previous post, I examined how notions of authenticity play out in capitalist spaces and posited that authenticity and the subordination of people to profit are irreconcilable concepts.

    In the eyes of much of both the Western corporate media and the governments who sing to their tune, the quasi-socialist state of Cuba is regarded as a formal authoritarian ‘dictatorship’. The informal elected dictatorship, the United States, on the other hand, is widely regarded to be a paragon of democratic values and freedom despite the fact that the world’s major imperial power continues to wage wars abroad and suppresses dissent at home. This has led at least one prominent dissenting voice to claim that the US displays many of the characteristics of a fascist state.

    How can the apparent dichotomy between fascism and formal democracy be explained?

    For the answer, it’s necessary to evaluate a countries credentials in terms of democratic outcomes. This relates, not to the particular form traditional-based democracies take as applied in theoretical and historically formal structures, but as they apply meaningfully, in practice. Let’s look at Cuba, Britain and the West in general as comparative examples.

    In Cuba, the formal capitalist market plays no part in the organization of society. As the lifeblood of liberal capitalist democracies is consumerism, the conceptual understanding of democracy in Western society is tied to the notion of public relations and the passive consumer. The writer and film-maker Adam Curtis provides a historical analysis of this relationship in his impressive BBC series The Century of the Self.

    In contrast to the British state-corporate conception of democracy in which populism and grass roots activism are frowned upon and passivity encouraged by the elites – as evidenced by the corporate-political classes reaction to Jeremy Corbyn – Cuban society is characterized by active political citizenship. Cuban politics, unlike its counterparts in the West has not, therefore, become susceptible to the distortions inherent to the market – the process of the buying and selling of things within what Marx calls the ‘sphere of circulation’.

    The extent of the overriding corruption within the sphere of circulation is evident throughout all Western liberal democracies, where the lobbying interests of giant multinational corporations wield extraordinary power to the extent that they are able to influence democratic decision-making processes in their favour to the detriment of the general public good.

    As I illustrated in my previous post, the subordination of people to profit can be witnessed daily by the extent to which the public sector continues to be debased and underfunded, predicated on the neoliberal ideology of austerity and welfare retrenchment. Meanwhile, Further and Higher education Research and Development Departments are increasingly under pressure not to be critical of the less than ethical practices of the giant corporations who are funding them, while many students are being priced out of higher education altogether.

    The work of professionals like teachers and social workers are increasingly being nudged away from the classroom and face-to face interaction and communication with other human beings, towards productivity outputs, time-management and the seemingly overriding obsession of meeting financial targets.

    Members of the general public who previously traveled on what was once integrated and unifying public transport systems funded directly from the public purses of governments, are now deemed to be customers who travel on largely fragmented and privately owned systems that have been funded through processes by which public tax-payers money subsidize the private capital of the giant corporations who now run them.

    In Britain this method of funding is euphemistically termed Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The principle of public money underwriting private capital at great expense to the taxpayer, is a common practice throughout the democracies of the Western world. What used to be not-for-profit public services run in the interests of the general public who funded them directly from the public purse, are now increasingly being run for profit in the interests of giant multinational corporations whose tentacle like grip extends into virtually every aspect of our lives.

    Even healthcare is not immune from this predatory practice. Recipients of healthcare in the US are deemed to be customers rather than patients, as if being wheeled around on a hospital trolley is akin to spending time in a car showroom or shopping for a refrigerator in a department store. Such is the distorting prioritizing logic of profit maximization that if one has the misfortune of needing urgent medical attention on the streets of the US, the healthcare worker is obliged in the first instance, to feel for the customer’s credit card before feeling for the patient’s pulse.

    So the corrupted system of capitalism effectively reduces all human relations to the same profit-motivated logic as everything else. This is not the case in Cuba, where a different set of priorities have come to dominate social life. As Cuba is not a capitalist country, mass consumerism is not a distorting feature of the political process.

    Therefore, the giant corporations whose life-blood the sphere of circulation represents, have no role to play in Cuban society. All things being equal, this means that collectively the Cuban people get to ensure that their basic needs are met as opposed to placing ‘democracy’ in the hands of unseen CEOs of major companies whose interests primarily lie with politicians, themselves and their shareholders.

    This would suggest that Western liberal democracy is based on an economic system based on creating wants and desires aimed towards a passive consumer in order to sustain itself. Cuban society, on the other hand, is premised on the notion that people are active political subjects who have direct control over the running of their lives free from all the corrupting influences described.

    Consequently, one of the poorest countries on the planet whose comparable nations are failed states like Somalia or Haiti, manages – unlike them – to provide its citizens with the necessities of life. This is despite the privations that underpin the continuing blockade and the punitive economic measures used against it by the worlds biggest superpower. Whether it’s Corbyn in Britain, or Castro in Cuba, the threat of good example is what the elites cannot tolerate.

    In this respect, the fundamental ethos of Cuban society which runs contrary to the capitalist ethos, is a recognition that it is not the duty of society to provide favourable conditions in order for corporations to give the public what they think they ought to have, but to ensure that a genuinely responsive democratic government of the people, by the people, for the people, provides the public with what they need to ensure their fundamental well-being. This includes water, food, housing, education and healthcare which are all provided for free of charge or at minimal cost to all Cuban people irrespective of income and status.

    In his book Tell Me No Lies, John Pilger cites the writer Simon Louvish recounting the story of a group of Soviets touring the United States before the age of glasnost. After reading the newspapers and watching TV, they were amazed to find that, on the big issues, all the opinions were the same. “In our country,” they said, “to get that result we have a dictatorship, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. So what’s your secret? How do you do it?”

    The answer to the question is that the Western media provide an illusion of freedom, democracy and authenticity in which it appears that the entire nature of society is really about the buying and selling of things within the sphere of circulation. Under capitalism people seek solace from their oppression in consumerism. Hence, we often hear of the ‘feel good factor’ associated with shopping and the notion of ‘retail therapy’ that the activity related to shopping implies.

    It is impossible in capitalist societies to escape this process. All the features of capitalism which the writer, Naomi Klein, describes in her book No Logo, such as advertising and branding, are all part of the process where the power of the commodity dominates. All capitalist-based societies, whatever their variation are, in reality, overt forms of dictatorship.

    My fundamental argument is that Cuban socialism and the democratic values that underpin it, necessarily overlap by virtue of the fact that the former is a necessary precondition for the establishment of the latter. In my view, this explains the reason why Cuba – outside of the tourist enclaves – represents one of the few authentic forms of society on the planet.

    https://cultureandpolitics.org/2016/...list-illusion/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

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